US State Highway 66
Caddo Mills, Texas
's gone country the last few weeks, as Alan Jackson might say, so here's one more spot to visit if you have some time and figure your tires need some dirt.
I was in Caddo Mills at lunchtime last Friday meeting up with three folks who work out there, who suggested we head to Bucky's Cafe -- a burger-and-fries place where they're regulars.
Bucky's is a country kitchen with a bright dining area, outfitted like grandma's living room -- flowery wallpaper and painted wooden signs that say things like "Welcome," and "Bless this House." One of my tablemates told me that our waitress was none other than the original Bucky, the restaurant's owner and namesake. Evidently she'd been a big-toothed kid, though the nickname didn't seem to apply anymore. It's a cute enough story, if a little mean-spirited too -- you wouldn't want to be the one immortalized by a diner called "Stubby's," or "Blindy's Drive-In."
Clean, light and covered in down-home country kitsch, there's no mistaking Bucky's for Twin Peaks or a sports bar. It comes by its dude cred honestly, though: the burgers are thick, hand-formed patties and you'll walk out smelling like that greasy chunk of beef all day long. Judging by the look of the lunchtime crowd, smelling like a griddle would be just fine wherever they were headed next.
Along with the restaurant's namesake, we had two other waitresses tending to our table, asking about the food, refilling drinks and checking up on our condition. It was like being a southern Civil War colonel back home to recuperate
where the ladyfolk know the best way to get your strength up is a half-pound burger stacked with onion rings.
The Bucky's Burger was the obvious choice, topped with onions two ways (in grilled and ring form), grilled mushrooms, cheese and a single, easily removed leaf of lettuce. The waitress eyed me warily, though, when I ordered it. "You know what you're getting into?" she asked, before demonstrating, like a fisherman talking about his last big catch, the monstrosity of this undertaking. I got a Dr Pepper (they don't serve Coke) and side of fries, too.
My compadres went with regular burgers and a patty melt (a burger for when you run out of buns, I guess), each for about four bucks (my burger was six). Those each came to the table in red plastic baskets, but my signature Bucky's burger and fries came out on a blue plate.
It was piled pretty high (easily about "yay" big), but what concerned me most was the white sauce running off the burger -- not mayo, which I'm usually on guard to avoid on a menu, but ranch. Otherwise it was a thing of beauty, an irregular shape that brought the burger a little closer back to the animal world it came from. The beef was juicy and seasoned -- not too greasy, but full of the burgery essence I'd be smelling on my shirt later.
Even the ranch couldn't overpower that burger, and to its credit, the dressing did help the lettuce leaf slide right out from under the bun after a few bites. The fries were unseasoned and a little thicker than most, with a crunch that stood up well even after they'd soaked up the stray burger juice.
The bench outside is in just the right spot to catch your breath.
The lunch rush cleared out shortly after we got our food, so the trio of waitresses converged on our table, refilling sweet teas and Dr Peppers every few minutes. Maybe spotting the tape recorder I'd put on the table (this was a working lunch with an interview), a waitress (not Bucky) told me to quit asking so many questions and let the other guys eat -- funny the first time, but a litte less so after the third reminder.
The Bucky's burger is a fair-sized meal, but it's no Old 96'er
. Beware the dressing, and you'll be fine. There's a bench right outside if you need a breather on the way out -- otherwise, here's hoping you've got a hammock waiting when you get home.